The Magic $20K

Seems like everyone I know was either attacked by a dog or hit by a car as a child, receiving a settlement of $20,000 on reaching adulthood. They wasted it on computers which were immediately obsolete and that kind of thing. More recently, I know someone who received $20,000 in life insurance payout from a parent’s death, and that person was a jumped-up maniac that wasted his money on endeavors that nearly killed him. Why is it always $20,000 and why can’t I get that? I’d spend half on top surgery for a trans dude I know and save the rest for taxes and bills and such. What would you do with the magic $20K?


  1. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

    I know one of those child-hit-a-car people.
    Parental units banked the 30K (CAD) until the 12-year-old reached 18,
    then turned it over to Beneficiary.
    Beneficiary (who was still living in the Parental home) spent the lot on video games and various other toys and parties for friends. It took just over a year.
    I am old.
    If I got a magic $20K, I’d spend it making myself more comfortable.
    or possibly a river cruise on the Danube.

  2. says

    Settlements are a good thing and I’m sure all the dogbit and carhit deserve theirs, whatever the waste they may come to. Just hard not to grumble from my corner.

    What’s comfortable to you? A nice bed? I’d settle for a bed. Sometimes it feels like sleeping on the floor might be good for my back, like I wake up stiff in a good way. But other times, I sleep on it funky and it doesn’t feel great.

  3. Jessie Harban says

    Magic $20K? I got barely more than a quarter of that.

    I spent it all in one go on a vacation. This was after my disability started to set in, so I catastrophically ran out of spoons towards the end but the beginning part is one of my last happy memories so I wouldn’t say it was wasted.

  4. says

    Down payment on a house. Or maybe pay off my debts, but not having to rent a crappy little apartment would be better for me in the long run.

    I’ve also seen many cases where someone inherited a large sum or got a lump sump payment from a lawsuit, insurance, or backpay on disability, then spent all the money within a few months. Usually more than $20K, though. They usually had nothing to show for it at the end, other than maybe a new car or snowmobile. One woman didn’t even pay off her house, so when the money ran out, she couldn’t make her house payments and was threatened with eviction.

  5. says

    LykeX + Siobhan – Hoho, yes, that wouldn’t even cover my student loan, tho it could take out the medical credit cards.

    Harban – A good argument for “wasting.” It’s related to an argument for why it’s reasonable for poor people to own a few things that cost hundreds of dollars. Like, “I can never escape my debt and can barely afford food, but I managed to spend a windfall on a video game system.” How many sanity points can the game system afford you?

  6. says

    Isilzha – Messing up your house payments is a different class of irresponsible from a late teen buying a bitchin’ gaming rig, but even as it’s frustrating for us to watch folks like that, I can’t help but sympathize. Society gives us psychological complexes about money that really need more study and effort at treatment.

    I especially have noticed it in genx+ children of middle class / upper middle class baby boomers. Young people who can’t command the salaries or long-term employment their parents had, have no emotional understanding of what money is / no ability to manage it, and thus end up permanently surviving on parental support.

    I say young people, but that’s up to around my age – 40. These people have tortured class feels and no vocabulary to articulate them, and always have to eat shit from their parents just to pay medical and housing bills. Stuff is messed up.

  7. wondering says

    I have just been laid off, one of the thousands laid off annually by this particular corporate entity. Said corporate entity offered a $60,000 severance – which sounds like a lot, but I had the offer reviewed by a lawyer and he said that by common law it was half of what they should have offered.

    It has been 6 months now and large corporate entity is dragging things out, because they can afford to and hope that I cannot. I can’t, not really, am saved only by qualifying for Employment Insurance, which I will have to pay back assuming I receive the settlement. I have applied for other jobs, but no bites so far.

    The kicker is that I bought a house in my very expensive market 2 years ago, assuming that my employment was as stable as it had been for the previous 10+ years. And I bought new windows and installed a heat pump and put that cost on my line of credit. It would pay for itself in the end, thanks to lower heating costs, thought I at the time.

    Now I will spend my severance, assuming it comes, on paying off that credit line and paying my mortgage and supporting myself and my family through a career change. No trips, no fancy toys, just tightwad budgeting. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the career change will be successful and there will be money leftover and I won’t have to sell the house. And then maybe a trip? But I can’t hope that far ahead.

    In the meantime, I am back to cleaning other people’s houses again, as I did before the corporate job.

  8. says

    When I hear about stuff like this, a lot of feels. I’ve never made half as much money as you in better times, but I’ve been lulled into a false sense of okayness by dishonest boom-bust employers before, could easily have been a defaulting subprime mortgage haver if the industry pulled a longer con on us, had me in deeper. When I was a security guard at a software giant, I’d see the cubicle dwelling six figure -ish people being drained like vampires, living in terror almost more than the rest of us. Just for real, fuck The Man, in all things.

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